TopRank Marketing chief executive Lee Odden recently sat down with Kenneth Kinney, host of A Shark’s Perspective Marketing Podcast, to talk about the intersection of search, influence, and content marketing in the B2B world.
We’ve gathered some of the highlights from Lee and Kenneth’s fascinating and insightful conversation here, to help you learn more about the power of search, influence, and content marketing.
Lee began by talking a bit about his 18-year history with TopRank Marketing, the agency he co-founded in 2001, and its expanding group of a-list B2B enterprise clients such as LinkedIn, Adobe, Dell, 3M, SAP, and others.
He then began exploring how to best take advantage of that initial moment when potential customers begin their search, with the powerful one-two punch that comes when best-answer content is combined with credibility.
Kenneth asked Lee about aligning the multitude of strategies many B2B firms incorporate, and how to avoid the mixed messaging that can leave buyers confused.
A holistic alignment is needed, Lee explained, even though a great deal of content is ephemeral, and he shared how large brands like SAP have done a great job integrating their key messages across channels.
Finding the topics customers care about and including best-answer content in editorial campaigns is key, Lee noted, to create continuity across channels.
Q: How do you explain the value of content marketing to B2B businesses, and how can the leaders of these businesses best position content marketing and its long-term benefits?
“Renting attention doesn’t have the equity that earning it does,” Lee said.
Finding the nature of real problems faced by potential customers and connecting early in the sales cycle, at the start of the buyer journey, is important to provide answers that solve those problems.
It’s important to create a strong affinity between the buyer and the business that has helped them overcome their key problems. After searching for answers from a wide variety of sources, ultimately when found, the buyer will ask themselves, “Which brand provided the information that was the most useful?”
Lee also shared the power of building greater confidence through a combination of content, paid media, and other channels.
Q: What guidance do you give new companies without huge budgets that want to begin tackling content marketing?
It’s worth taking the time to find the right people, who have first-hand insight into understanding a company’s customers and what their wants and needs really are.
Then figure out where your customers are spending their time, and what their influences are. Spend time creating content that answers their key questions in the channels they use the most. That might be a blog, a Facebook group, or any number of other social platforms.
There’s a trend towards consumerization in B2B, along with changing expectations. We like to meet this marketing challenge with our “break free of boring B2B” efforts.
TopRank Marketing has gone beyond boring B2B in many ways, most recently by creating an interactive digital experience for the upcoming fall Content Marketing World conference, and with a “laser-bear” interactive infographic for the B2BMX conference. It’s important for all B2B businesses to find their own equivalent that will resonate in their industry.
You can explore and interact with the Content Marketing World promotion featuring experts like Ann Handley, Michael Brenner, Robert Rose, Amisha Gandhi, Andrew Davis and more below:
Q: How do you find and engage with B2B influencers?
B2B influencers need to have expertise, and the right ones create mutual value for the brand and the influencer. More than mere popularity, good influencers will also have plenty of data-discoverable evidence that they’re actually influencing people.
You can learn how to inspire potential influencers who have authentic voices, to collaborate and work with your team. If they partner with you it’s an ongoing effort, so it’s important to build that relationship for the long term.
Lee explored some of the success stories TopRank Marketing has had from working with LinkedIn over many years, including the kind of influencer marketing programs that foster good will.
He also shared his thoughts with Kenneth on the importance of word-of-mouth advertising in ongoing, long-term B2B relationships.
Q: How do you measure success with B2B content marketing?
Asking the right questions to learn the important key performance indicators (KPIs) to use is key, Lee noted, and shared how TopRank Marketing uses a successful and relevant “attract, engage, and convert” model.
Kenneth concluded the Shark’s Perspective podcast by asking Lee what his favorite kind of shark is, and five Minnesota-related questions.
These are just a smattering of the many insights Lee shared during the podcast.
You can also catch Lee speaking at Content Marketing World this fall, where on September 3 he’ll be presenting “How to Develop a B2B Influencer Marketing Program That Actually Works” with Amisha Gandhi of SAP, and a solo session on September 4 exploring “Content Marketing Fitness – 10 Exercises to Build Your Marketing Beach Body.”